“Volunteer for Carleton” is an annual stewardship event hosted by the Alumni Annual Fund (AAF) Office. Carleton students are encouraged to volunteer as much of their time as they would like to participate in the many activities organized; these include making calls to alumni for fundraising purposes, writing postcards to thank alumni who have volunteered for the college in one way or another, and the writing of appreciation letters by scholarship recipients to their donors. The 2008 event was held last week in the Great Hall from January 6-10. It was attended by 119 students a total of 812 times, which averages out to almost 7 times per person.
Cassie Schuette, the Assistant Director of the Alumni Annual Fund, believes that the event went “very well” and was an “overall success.” She mentioned that over the past few years, there has been a growth in an understanding of what “Volunteer for Carleton” really means. “Student attendance went up dramatically this year, not in terms of the total number of students who visited but rather the number of times each student visited,” she said. “Students have begun to see it as for great opportunity to connect with alumni”. This year, the total amount raised from the five-day event was $135,515, which is an increase from previous years’ collections. The money that is raised every year at the event is put to use in a variety of ways. It is used to provide need-based financial assistance, fund the ACT (Acting in the Community Together) office, and support faculty salaries.
An auction is traditionally held at the end of the event to reward students for their participation. Students can gather points based on the amount of time volunteer for. A greater number of points can guarantee more attractive prizes. This year, a professional auctioneer was invited to the Great Hall on Saturday to conduct the event. Among the prizes awarded, some of the most attractive ones included a Sleep Number mattress for a double dorm room, various $50 gift certificates, a small print by Professor Fred Hagstrom from the Studio Art Department, and a 1-year subscription to the New Yorker magazine.
When asked what motivated him to participate actively in ‘Volunteer-for-Carleton’, Peter Fritz ‘08, the runner-up of the event in terms of total number of points gathered, said with a grin on his face, “My roommates and I began to get a little competitive.” Tommy Walker ’08, the winner of the event, and Dillon Muth ’08, his two roommates, initiated a friendly competition to see who could gather the most number of points. On a more serious note, however, he said that he believed the event was for a “very good cause”. As the current Vice-President of the Carleton Senate Association (CSA), he has learnt a lot about the real contributions of the alumni. “While the tuition fee for students in high, if you compare it to the amount that the college needs to be able to run, it really is not all that much. The alumni provides for a lot of the difference.” About his conversations with the various alums he called, he felt that they were all “receptive”, at the very least. He mentioned that some apologized for donating “merely a few hundred dollars”, which only served to indicate alumni’s recognition that their participation in the college, even after they graduate, is key to the functioning of the college.
Some other students, who participated more casually, shared similar sentiments. Both Alexander Persaud ’09 and Tenzin Noryang ’10 are recipients of scholarships which decreases their tuition fee dramatically. When asked if his participation in the event increased his awareness of alumni’s role in Carleton’s education, Persaud expressed immense gratitude and amazement at the alumni’s willingness to give to the college. He recognizes that their donations have not only short-term, but also long-term benefits for the college as there are always funds and scholarships set up so that when tuition fees increase suddenly from year to year, the cost can be absorbed. Noryang, who spent about an hour each day at the event, liked the concept of the event very much. “Not only could I thank my donors, I also had a great time with my friends and other Carleton students.”
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